The last few years has seen a massive increase in remote working, largely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed on people to quash the spread of the virus. Whilst it’s probably fair to say some businesses were already embracing remote working, many others weren’t. However, the lockdown forced many businesses to operate on a remote model unless they operated in an industry where this was not possible.
As we inch our way back to some kind of normality it is clear remote working is here to stay and this article provides some thoughts as to how businesses can ensure remote workers feel part of a company’s culture.
This is absolutely key. Whether your workforce is all – or part – remote, how a business communicates with its employees is a critical part of how culture forms and evolves. If communication is better and/or more frequent for those who are office-based it can alienate remote workers from the business and its core culture, so there should be no or little difference in terms of how communication is managed throughout a business, regardless of how employees work.
2. 1 to 1s
These discussions with remote workers can be used to review progress, check on wellbeing and disseminate any important messages or issues affecting the business. Importantly, such 1 to 1s enable the employee to feel included and part of the wider team, and the structure of them doesn’t need to be vastly different to those who are office-based.
3. Reinforce company culture
Developing behaviour which reinforces company culture requires strong leadership so it is vital managers are equipped to provide the coaching and support their employees need, for example; setting stretch goals and objectives, establishing performance expectations, managing by output, fostering a culture of accountability and critical feedback.
4. Employee choices
All employees are different and those working on a remote basis will have different needs and requirements, especially around how they like to be managed.
Having individual conversations with the employee to explore how they prefer to be managed creates an employee-centric approach, helping to increase engagement and motivation.
Putting each employee at the heart of the conversation will make them feel they matter and are important to both the manager and the business.
Feeling appreciated is key to feeling part of something. Recognition can take many shapes and forms and, often, a mixture of recognition from the senior lead plus peer led recognition can help cultivate a sense of belonging. It can be as simple as encouraging team members to say ‘thank you’ to a different team member each week, with each thank you focusing on a specific accomplishment or positive behaviour so it feels authentic and genuine.
Similarly, a manager can recognise a team member of the week/month on the same basis.
6. Team building activities
Having a variety of team events can be a great way of connecting team members, whilst also engaging and motivating. Virtual team events will go a long way to integrate remote workers with the whole team and/or bring a team of wholly remote workers together. Online events don’t have to be just about having virtual drinks – for example a book club or recipe sharing might offer something a little different.
If any team building events are in person, be sure to invite remote workers and don’t assume they won’t be able to attend – an invite goes a long way to making a person feel included.
7. Onboarding process
A clunky and ineffective onboarding process can give a poor first impression of a company. However, in a world where remote working is on the increase, how you welcome new employees into your business and culture is more important than ever. More than this, it presents a great opportunity to familiarise the employee with the company culture at the earliest time.
There are a whole host of onboarding platforms out there to support businesses of all shapes and sizes and they can greatly facilitate the speedy integration of a new employee into the company and give them the knowledge around values, beliefs and culture. Further, such platforms can help with all the necessary admin associated with new starters, ensuring everything is in place when the employee starts.
There is nothing more unwelcoming for a new employee, especially one working remotely, when the business appears unprepared for their start and can often alienate them from day one.
The culture of your business isn’t something you can teach, or simply state as being the case, it’s something your employees experience, so giving some consideration to how remote workers can feel part of the organisation is key.
If you would like further advice on how to ensure your staff working remotely still feel like part of the team, do get in touch.